Welcome to the Brixton Buddhist Community.
We are part of the Triratna Buddhist Community; an international Buddhist movement founded in 1967 by Urgyen Sangharakshita.
We aim to provide a local space for people in South London to meditate together and to explore the teachings of Buddhism. We offer classes, courses and retreats on meditation, mindfulness and Buddhism. Some of our events are ideal for newcomers curious to learn more about Buddhism while other activities offer more advanced teaching for those with an established practice. You don’t need to be a Buddhist to attend any of our events.
Our community offers a friendly atmosphere in which to explore or deepen your practice of meditation or discover how Buddhist principles can enrich your life.
Brixton Buddhist Community is a network of individuals united by the shared aim of developing spiritually and living in accordance with Buddhist principles of friendship; generosity; honest, kindly communication and care for each other’s spiritual welfare. A key part of this vision is helping others benefit from the teachings of the Buddha, such as meditation, mindfulness, ethics and social engagement.
The community is made up of practitioners at different levels of commitment to the Buddhist path; Order Members, Mitras, people who attend regularly, and people who just drop in to our classes.
Someone who has been ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order, is an ‘Order Member’.
Ordination is a significant and powerful ceremony in which an individual makes a lifelong commitment to following the Buddhist path, placing this at the centre of their lives.
Training for ordination is a process which takes many years of personal practice, dharma study and periods of being on retreat. During their ordination, a practitioner makes commitments to practice for the benefit of all beings, to act in accordance with 10 Buddhist ethical precepts and to live in harmony with others. At Ordination they are given special meditation practice and a new Buddhist name to signify their commitment to the spiritual life. You can usually recognise an Order Member because they wear a symbolic white scarf (kesa) embroidered with the three jewels.
Everyone who has contact with Brixton Buddhist Community, (such as coming to a class) is considered a ‘friend’. However someone who feels a particular connection with our community and has decided to follow the Buddhist path can ask to become a ‘Mitra’ (which simply means ‘friend’ in Sanskrit). Becoming a Mitra marks a deepening of commitment for the practitioner, and there are special activities, including retreats and study groups open to Mitras to support them in this.
People ask to become a Mitra when they:
- – Consider that they are Buddhists.
- – Are trying to live in accordance with the five ethical precepts of Buddhism.
- – Feel that the Triratna Buddhist Community is the appropriate spiritual context for them.
Once a person’s request to be a Mitra has been accepted, they take part in a simple public ceremony on a festival day. This ceremony is recognised at all Triratna centres worldwide, and they will be regarded as a Mitra wherever they go.
Later on, some Mitras also decide to ask for ordination, and begin the process of training for ordination. However, this is not an expectation and many people practice happily as Mitras within our community the rest of their lives.
All Triratna Buddhist Centres offer a four-year programme of study which covers the key aspects of the Buddha’s teaching and Sangharakshita’s approach to it. These study groups are mainly for Mitras to help them deepen their commitment to the Buddhist path.
However, at Brixton we offer the first year of this programme to anyone who would like to deepen their understanding of Buddhism and Buddhist practice. If you are interested in joining a study group, then speak to an Order Member at one of our classes.
Within the Buddhist tradition, historically and culturally there has been a strict divide between men and women practitioners. The Triratna Buddhist Community is unique in the Buddhist world as it recognises equal ordination for both women and men, who both join a single sangha. However, it also recognises that there is much to gain by sharing our lives with those who have an experience closest to our own. In Triratna this has lead to the practice of women being trained and ordained by other women and men by men. It is for this reason that alongside our many mixed events, our study groups and residential communities are often established as women’s or men’s groups.
Yet, we are aware that this structure does not suit everyone. In response to the emerging awareness of gender diversity, Triratna is currently in a process of creating more supportive contexts for people who are gender diverse, so that they have the necessary conditions to deepen their practice, become Mitras and train for ordination. These needs vary widely by individual, but examples include connecting people with the broader Triratna Gender Diverse Sangha, establishing gender diverse study groups and ordination training programmes, or in the case of people transitioning, supporting them to move between the existing men’s or women’s wings of the Order and movement.
Brixton’s rich cultural diversity is huge part of its appeal and we are keen that our community is fully representative of the community it serves. Although our community is increasingly diverse, especially at our classes, we still have a way to go. This is particularly true amongst our teaching team and trustee board. Our hope is that within a few years, our diversity work will mean more members of our sangha from Black, Asian and other ethnic groups will start to feel sufficiently experienced to step into more of these leading roles.
Currently we work with the other London Buddhist Centres to support London-wide People of Colour activities for our sangha members. Brixton’s trustees are also developing a new diversity plan with input from the London Buddhist Centre’s Mindful of Race Group, and our involvement with the European Chair’s Assembly Diversity Group. We hope this initiative will offer more pathways into our community for people of all ethnic groups, as well as offer specific support for People of Colour to deepen their Buddhist practice within our community.
See our People of Colour page for more information on classes and events.
Brixton Buddhist Community is a registered UK charity. Decisions about the community’s vision, activities, finances, and public communications are made by a board of trustees who meet bi-monthly. They are all volunteers, with the exception of Viryanaga, the Chair. Because we are a spiritual community, the trustees are all experienced Order Members able to guide the spiritual direction of the community.
Viryanaga is the chair of Brixton Buddhist Community. The role of the Chair is to oversee the direction of the community, support the team and all the volunteers, and make the many small day-to-day decisions involved with running a thriving Buddhist organisation. Initially this role was voluntary position, but as our community has grown in recent years, the work has also grown into a full-time responsibility, with Viryanaga now employed by the charity.
Paramabandhu is the president of Brixton Buddhist Community. A president offers spiritual counsel and friendship to a community, and can be a source of help when issues arise. Paramabandhu is a senior Order Member, who along with others, hold responsibility for ordinations within the Triratna Buddhist Community. He is also an ex-chair of the London Buddhist Centre in East London, where he lives, and is a highly valued teacher. He visits us at least twice a year.
We have two Mitra Convenors, both of whom are volunteers. Amarapuspa looks after the women’s sangha, and Maitrinara takes care of the men’s sangha. A Mitra Convenor takes special responsibly for supporting Mitras within our community, both through running events and meeting with people individually. They also meet with men and women who are becoming more involved with our community, to help them find appropriate study groups or events to support their practice. They help to guide people in the process of becoming mitras and are also often a point of contact for Mitras who want to ask for ordination. They are always happy to hear from people interested in becoming more involved in our community.
The centre team is the organisational hub of Brixton Buddhist Community. Together they are responsible for coordinating all the events, as well as managing our online content. Lizzy works two days a week, while Alex and Elena currently work one day a week each.